In the US alone, more than 17 million vehicles have been called back into service to fix a potentially fatal defect that concerns airbags produced by Japan’s safety auto parts supplier Takata.
Everybody knows by now about the issue – after all it’s the second large auto safety scandal that plagued the auto industry last year, alongside GM’s ignition switch case. It’s also a global recall problem, though most of the manufactured vehicles with the defective airbags can be found in the United States. The Takata produced airbag inflators can explode with too much force, rupturing the airbag and sending metal debris and shrapnel flying at high velocity inside the cabin. At least five fatalities and more than one hundred injuries have been linked to the issue so far, including a pregnant woman who died alongside her fetus in Malaysia. The complexity of the recall also stems from the fact that ten automakers and numerous underlying brands are involved – causing for the problem to spread across a wide variety of cars, trucks and SUVs. Each vehicle could also be recalled not just for one airbag and the model years of the vehicles spread from 2001 to 2011.
The problem is also far larger than expected due to the availability of replacement parts. Owners could be confused and decide to postpone or even skip the repairs because they don’t know yet if their vehicle can be serviced – the manufacturers have delayed the issuing of recall notices to prevent situations when the service cannot be completed because Takata has not yet delivered the necessary replacement kit.